Best Vacuum Cleaner 2017: The 16 best vacuum cleaners you can buy

Finding the best vacuum for your home is a tricky task, not least because there are so many different types to choose from. Our pick of the best vacuum cleaners on the market covers everything from bagged and bagless models to cordless vacuums, cylinder vacuums and uprights.

Expect reviews from all the big brands, including Miele, Shark, Dyson and Vax. All the models here have been tested by our expert husband-and-wife reviewing team, Richard and Jackie Stevenson.

This round-up includes summaries of their findings, but there are links to the full reviews where you can see before and after photos from each machine too.

Read on for some advice on which type you should buy, details on how we test, and a useful summary of the best vacuum cleaners we’ve tested.

Related: Best robot vacuum cleaners

What’s the best type of vacuum cleaner?

There are two key choices to make here. First, you need to choose between bagged and bagless vacuum cleaners; secondly, are you better off with an upright or a cylinder vacuum cleaner? We’ll get to those in a moment.

But there’s one further option – cordless vacuum cleaners. The wire-free convenience they offer is a growing trend in the market, and well worth considering. Most aren’t as powerful as corded vacuum cleaners, but they make up for that with versatility and simplicity. Ridding yourself of the cable makes spot cleans much easier, so they’re a great alternative if you already have a decent corded vacuum cleaner for tougher jobs.

Bagged vs Bagless – Which is best?

Dyson popularised bagless vacuum cleaners, but there are clear advantages and disadvantages to both types. The main benefit of a bagless vacuum cleaner is no loss of suction, or at least a smaller reduction, as your cleaner fills up. Performance varies from brand to brand, depending on the quality of their systems, but that’s the key selling point.

The problem with bagless vacuum cleaners is that they can send dust back into your room when emptied unless you’re very careful. That’s where bagged vacuum cleaners are best, particularly the self-sealing kind used by the likes of Miele. A bagged vacuum cleaner is a better option if you’re an allergy sufferer.

Another advantage of bagless vacuum cleaners is that you don’t have to buy bags, saving some money in the long run. However, most bagless cleaners need to have their filters cleaned once a month or so, which means leaving them to dry for at least 24 hours. The only exception are some new Dysons, which are among the first to have no filter whatsoever.

Upright vs Cylinder Vacuum Cleaners

Whether you choose an upright or a cylinder vacuum cleaner largely comes down to the style of cleaner you prefer. Cylinder cleaners are normally easier to store, but pulling them around can become annoying. They’re not the best for people with bad backs, either, due to you having to bend down to pick them up.

A good upright will breeze around your floors with ease, and they normally have wider cleaning heads that cover a larger area in one sweep. It can be tricky to get under furniture with an upright, but some are designed to avoid this problem.

If you’re unsure, see if you can try some out first.

How we test vacuum cleaners

Every vacuum cleaner in our round-up has been individually reviewed – each summary includes a link to our full, in-depth review of the product where you can read about the pros and cons, and see how well it cleans in our before-and-after photos.

When we review vacuum cleaners we look at the following things:

Manoeuvrability –Here we look at how easy it is to steer, pull and lift the machine. We test on carpets and hard floors and look for problems such as overbalancing on upright machines, flexibility and common issues like “sticking” heads on hard floors due to poorly designed cleaner heads.

Carpet cleaning – We test using white powder on dark carpets and test after three sweeps, where one sweep is up and down across the area.

Edge cleaning – This test looks at how well the machine cleans up to the edge of skirting boards before you have to resort to specialist crevice tools.

Hard floor cleaning – We conduct similar tests on hard floors and look at how well the vacuum cleaner sucks dust up from crevices and gaps in flooring.

Pet hair cleaning – How long and how many sweeps it takes to clean a 40cm-diameter circle of combed-in pet hair.

Cleaning on stairs
– We see how easy it is to clean on stairs using the tools provided. We pay particular attention to how long the detachable hose is and how easy it is to carry the vacuum cleaner if you need to.

Noise – We measure how noisy the machine is in decibels recorded at head level.

We also check to see what accessories are included, how well they work and how versatile the machine is. For example, some vacuum cleaners are good at specific jobs, while others have lots of tools that make them open to more variety.

Other details we check include the cord length on corded vacuum cleaners, the battery life on cordless models and how easy it is to empty bagless models.

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Key features:

  • Upright vacuum cleaner
  • Swivel steering
  • LED floor head lights

The feature-packed Shark Rotator Lift-Away NV340 bagless vacuum is a solidly built, versatile and effective cleaner, and a perfect budget alternative to its expensive Dyson rival. It come with a plethora of tools, including a telescopic crevice tool and a detailing attachment, which is great for guzzling crumbs off keyboards and buffing knick-knacks.

It’s lack of upholstery tool makes it tricky to use on stairs, curtains and pet hair-laden soft furnishings, but there’s plenty of power behind the vacuum to make up for that. In our tests, it gave outstanding cleaning performance out on open carpet, and was a reasonably good edge cleaner too.

We loved the vivid LED lights that illuminate the Shark’s cleaning path in dark places like behind the sofa and under the bed. The lift-away aspect of the vacuum impressed too, simply dropping the floorhead to transform it into a hand-held cleaner for sofas and hard-to-reach places. It’s a little clunky and noisy, but that’s not a deal breaker considering how well it cleans.

At the time of the review the Shark Rotator Lift-Away NV340 was available for £259.99

Read the full Shark Rotator Lift-Away NV340 review

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Key Features:

  • Cordless stick vacuum with up to 40 minutes battery life
  • Motorised brush bar for beating up dirt
  • 0.8-litre dust bin

The Gtech AirRam Mk2 probably isn’t going to replace your conventional vacuum cleaner, but it’s perfect if you’ve already got a corded vac with tools and attachments and you’re simply after a second nifty dirt sucking sidekick.

Gliding around on four wheels, the AirRam Mk2 is a whiz on hard floors, which is great if you don’t want floor cleaning to be a workout. At 3.5kg, it’s lighter than most upright vacs too.

We love the new AirLOC technology, which is basically a fancy word for the AirRam Mk2’s clever little front flap. It goes with the motion when you push forwards, but flicks down and locks when you pull back, creating a better seal. This helps you draw in bigger debris on the forward stroke, and finer dirt on the backstroke.

The AirRam Mk2’s lack of tools or attachments, along with a restricted suction area, means it’s not great for clearing up areas around skirting boards and tight corners, but it makes up for this in its general cleaning efficiency, ease of use and lightweight feel.

Buy now at Amazon

At the time of the review the Gtech AirRam mk2 was £199

Read the full Gtech AirRam Mk2 review

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Key Features:

  • 9-litre capacity bagged cylinder cleaner
  • 9.6-metre power cable
  • Robust build quality

The Numatic Henry HVR200-A2 is one of the best-known vacuum cleaner brands around. It’s a favourite among professional cleaners everywhere and with good reason: it’s made to withstand serious punishment.

This makes it a great workhorse for small offices and shops, but it’s a good home vacuum cleaner as well, and inexpensive to boot.

One of our favourite features is the huge, 9-litre capacity bag, which means you don’t have to empty it often. You have to work quite hard to agitate dirt in carpet, but it’s a good cleaner on all surfaces. It struggles a little in edge cleaning compared to the very best, but then it costs a fraction of the price and the provided crevice tool gets the job done.

Our only serious warning is that at 8.5kg it’s rather heavy, making it a poor choice for anyone with a bad back.

Buy now at Amazon

At time of review the Numatic Henry HVR200-A2 was available for £110

Read the full Numatic Henry HVR200-A2 review

Key features:

  • 1200W bagless cleaner
  • Single Vortex technology
  • Self-cleaning filter
  • Variable power

The Miele Blizzard CX1 Comfort PowerLine is a suction powerhouse with super control, flexibility and a slew of winning accessories.

Its flexible hose, handle, tubes and tools all clip together and unclip with ease, offering excellent reach to high-up cobwebs, behind the sofa and other awkward nooks around the home. It also has the biggest floorhead we’ve seen on any cleaner, making the most of the vacuum’s superb suction power.

Other attractive features include wireless controls for powering up and switching on and off, variable power, self-cleaning low-maintenance filters, and an incredibly easy-to-empty bin. The vacuum also rolls around on four Dynamix Drive casters with 360-degree rotation and air-filled open rubber tyres, making it a smooth mover on hard floors and tiles.

The only minor caveats are that it’s not great with pet hair (look to the Miele Blizzard CX1 Cat & Dog Powerline for that), and it’s a bit too large and heavy to make light work of stairs. Otherwise, this is a supremely effective vacuum for everything from tiled kitchens to rugs, carpets and curtains.

Can’t stretch to its price tag? Try the Miele Blizzard CX1 Excellence instead.

Buy now at Amazon

At the time of the review the Miele Blizzard CX1 Comfort PowerLine was available for £400

Read the full Miele Blizzard CX1 Comfort PowerLine review

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Key Features:

  • 700W motor and large 3.5-litre capacity
  • Side suction for edge-to-edge cleaning
  • Power brush head and flex neck for flat-to-floor cleaning

Sebo has a loyal following of customers and it’s easy to see why. The Sebo Felix Vogue Eco is a fantastic upright vacuum cleaner that tackles carpets and pet hair with aplomb.

This is particularly impressive given its low sounding 700W power output, which just goes to show it’s not all about how many ‘watts’ a cleaner has.

The Felix Vogue Eco comes with a power brush head that has an unusual L-shape, meaning the narrower side can fit under radiators and other tricky areas with ease.

It has another neat trick, too, as the main body can drop right down to floor level for easier access under tables, beds and sofas. Overall, it’s a great, eco-friendly and rather stylish upright vac.

Buy Now at Amazon

At time of review the Sebo Felix Vogue Eco was available for £259

Read the full Sebo Felix Vogue Eco review

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Key features:

  • Cordless, up to 46 minutes of cleaning
  • Dual batteries
  • 0.33-litre capacity
  • HEPA filtration

The Shark DuoClean Cordless TruePet IF250UKT has a features list as long as its name.

For a start, twin batteries promise run times of up to 23 minutes each, its filtration is HEPA quality and the potent DuoClean head sports LED headlights for darker areas. The main vacuum tube will even bend to get to hard-to-reach areas, like under sofas.

It’s a little unwieldy in the hand, and heavy to reach high cobwebs compared to its Dyson equivalent, but its cleaning power on hard floors and carpets alike is supremely impressive.

It comes with plenty of accessories, including a motorised tool for tackling pet hair and a number of handheld tools, like a dust brush for windowsills

Super-versatile and hugely capable, this Shark is a great all-rounder, and though lacking a touch of finesse in the design department, is a serious competitor to Dyson’s mighty V-series.

At the time of review, the Shark DuoClean Cordless TruePet IF250UKT was available for £479.99

Read the full Shark DuoClean Cordless TruePet IF250UKT review

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Key Features:

  • Built-in pet odour filter
  • 5-litre self-sealing dust bag
  • Air-powered Turbobrush head and dedicated hard floor head

The Miele Complete C3 Cat & Dog Powerline is a great all-round cylinder vacuum cleaner with a special emphasis on cleaning pet hair. It cleaned our test patch of pet hair in a creditable 12 seconds and it works equally well on hard floors.

All tools are stored onboard, which makes life easier. Better still, it has a built-in pet odour filter that helps reduce pet smells as you clean. Its smart design makes it easy to use, and we found the pet odour system worked brilliantly.

If you’d prefer a smaller cleaner, consider the Miele Compact C2 Cat & Dog – it’s the same basic design, but it has a smaller 3.5-litre bag and weighs less. Need something more powerful, with HEPA filter to boot? The Miele CX1 Cat & Dog Powerline could be the cleaner for you.

Buy now at Amazon

At time of review the Miele Complete C3 Cat & Dog Powerline was available for £270

Read the full Miele Complete C3 Cat & Dog Powerline review

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Key Features:

  • 2-in-1 cordless upright with detachable handheld
  • Up to 50-minute run time from two supplied batteries
  • 1-litre capacity, 5.1kg total weight, 3.3kg handheld weight

The Vax Air Cordless Lift is one of the best of a new breed of cordless vacuum cleaners. Its key feature is how it switches between being a normal upright and handheld. The main portion lifts away – hence the name – so you can carry it around easily. It’s a great feature.

Vax includes two batteries with the Air Cordless Lift, so you can carry on cleaning while you charge the other. The combined 50-minute runtime is excellent – more than enough to clean a two-bedroom house, for example.

It cleans hard floors well and picks up pet hair on carpets with no problems. The only serious downside is its poor edge cleaning on carpets. This means you’ll need to go around the room with the crevice tool to clean near skirting boards, whereas the best corded models get these done in one go.

Buy now at Amazon

At time of review the Vax Air Cordless Lift U85-ACLG-B was available for £300

Read the full Vax Air Cordless Lift U85-ACLG-B review

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Key Features:

  • Bag-less and filter-less
  • 2.18-litre dustbin capacity
  • 25-metre reach

The Dyson D75 Cinetic Big Ball is aptly named – it’s big and boy, is it powerful. If there’s a more effective upright vacuum cleaner, we’re yet to find it. It devours everything in its path and leaves your carpets looking pristine. It’s the ultimate cleaner for a large, busy household.

Better yet, it requires very little maintenance. A clever new system means there’s no traditional filter, so there’s no more cleaning and drying of the filter needed. All you need to do is remember to empty the generous 2.18-litre dustbin.

On the downside, this is one of Dyson’s heaviest machines – it weighs 8.7kg. It still manoeuvres well thanks to the ball design and low-centre of gravity, but don’t buy this machine if you have a bad back.

Buy now at Amazon

At time of review the Dyson DC75 Animal was £399

Read the full Dyson D75 Cinetic Big Ball Animal review

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Key Features:

  • 11-stage dust filtration system
  • EU “A rating” for exhaust dust
  • Seal-sealing HyClean GN dustbags

The Miele Complete C3 Total Solution Powerline – yes, it is a mouthful – is very similar to the C3 Cat & Dog featured elsewhere in this feature. The main difference is it uses an 11-stage dust and pollen filter instead of a pet odour filter. This makes it ideal for allergy sufferers, as it retains up to 99.9% of dust and pollen.

This is the only real difference, though, so it’s just as good at cleaning as the Cat & Dog version. It’s equally effective on pet hair as well, so you’re not losing out in any serious department.

Buy now at Amazon

At time of review the Miele Complete C3 Total Solution Allergy PowerLine was available for £300

Read the full Miele Complete C3 Total Solution PowerLine review

Shark NV680UKT

11 of 16

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Key Features:

  • Corded upright vacuum cleaner
  • Lift-off and carry main body
  • 1-litre dust bin

The Shark NV680UKT is a versatile all-rounder that will suit many homes. Although it’s a corded upright cleaner, it also has a ‘lift-away’ main body that you can carry up and down stairs.

It comes with an excellent range of tools, including a small turbo brush for spot-cleaning stairs, sofas and other furniture, and a dedicated hard floor attachment with a microfibre cleaning pad.

It cleans very well and is excellent on stairs. In fact, the only real downside is the relatively small 1-litre bin.

Buy now at Amazon

At time of review the Shark NV680UKT was available for £299.99

Read the full Shark NV680UKT review

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Key Features:

  • 1-litre bagless dust bin and Dyson Ball head
  • Handheld Tangle-Free Turbine tool for pet hairs
  • Automatic head adjustment

The Dyson DC41 Mk2 Animal is arguably the ultimate upright vacuum cleaner, a machine that devours tough pet hair with ease.

Why do we love this machine so much? One reason is the Dyson Ball system makes it effortlessly easy to move it around – if there’s a more manoeuvrable upright vac then we haven’t found it. We also love how long the detachable hose is so long it reaches to top of almost any staircase, and how it cleans brilliantly right up to the edge of skirting boards.

It’s the new Tangle-Free Turbine tool that really stands out, though, particularly for anyone with pets. This handheld tool makes it super-easy to get clean pet hair from stairs, sofas, car boots and everywhere between.

Fancy something cordless instead? Check out the Dyson V7 Animal for inspiration.

Buy now at Amazon

At time of review the Dyson DC41 Mk2 Animal was available for £340

Read the full Dyson DC41 Mk2 Animal review

Dyson V6 Fluffy

13 of 16

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Key Features:

  • ‘Fluffy’ hardfloor cleaning head & powered cleaner head
  • Mini pet hair cleaning head & two crevice tools
  • Cordless stick vacuum with 20-minute run time

Modern cordless cleaners are much better than the ones of old and the Dyson V6 Fluffy sets the standard. It’s based on the same basic design and motor as the Dyson V6 cordless, but add some extra tools that really elevate it to a different level.

It’s the ‘Fluffy’ cordless head that makes the difference. This is a spinning head tool designed for hard floors. It specialises in capturing larger debris, the kind that other cleaners often push around. It’s also perfect for delicate wooden floors as the soft bristles won’t cause any damage.

This is a versatile cleaner, too. You can detach the long metal hose to convert it into a handheld, and there’s a handy motorised head for removing pet hair from sofas, beds and your car.

As cordless cleaners go, we’d recommend this one to anyone who can stomach the price.

Buy now at Amazon

At time of review the Dyson V6 Fluffy was available for £350

Read the full Dyson V6 Fluffy review

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Key Features:

  • Bagged, cylinder vacuum cleaner with 3.5-litre bag
  • 1200W motor and S-class dust filtration
  • 3kg / 7.5kg with hose and head attached

The Sebo Airbelt E1 Pet is one of the finest vacuum cleaners we’ve tested. A bagged, cylinder cleaner that won’t take up too much space, it’s specifically designed to tackle tough pet hair and all the grubby rubbish that comes with your furry friends.

Build quality is superb – this is a machine that’s built to last. We also love how it features a soft bumper all round the side that stops it from leaving nasty scuffs. You also get a longer than average hose (7.5m), though the 3.5-litre is an average size.

This is an exceptionally quiet cleaner and it performs brilliantly. It left our carpets looking immaculate and has no problem on hard floors. It’s easy to use on stairs, too – it balances easily on steps and has excellent reach.

At this price, you won’t find many better than this.

At the time of review, the Sebo Airbelt E1 Pet was available for £259.95

Read the full Sebo Airbelt E1 Pet review

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Key Features:

  • 0.54-litre cordless stick vacuum cleaner
  • Soft Head Cleaner Head for hard floors
  • Up to 40 minutes battery life

The Dyson V8 Absolute is the gold standard for cordless vacuum cleaners. In fact, it’s arguably the gold standard for all vacuum cleaners. Sadly this comes at a big price, but the V8 is in a different league to its rivals.

A larger capacity battery means twice the running time of the V6 cordless range – up to 40 minutes with non-powered cleaning heads and close to 30 minutes with the motorised heads. That’s more than enough for regular cleans.

The 0.54-litre bin is larger, too, and it’s easier to empty thanks to a new mechanism that ejects stubborn debris with more force.

As for cleaning, the V8 surpasses a great many mains-powered cleaners while remaining incredibly light and easy to use. When you’re done, it clips into the neat wall dock to charge, so it’s ready to go at a moments notice.

Buy now at Amazon

At time of review the Dyson V8 Absolute was available for £529.99

Read the full Dyson V8 Absolute review

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Key features:

  • Bagless design, 1.6-litre capacity
  • 9.4m for great reach
  • 40% quieter

The Dyson Light Ball Multi Floor is all new, eco-friendly sibling to the company’s popular Big Ball vacuum (also in this list).

With a 700W motor, it almost halves the power of its big brother and comes with estimated electricity costs of just a fiver a year.

The best thing is, you wouldn’t know it. Performance is fantastic, and it works well on both carpets and hard floors. It’ll even handle pet hair, though multi-pet owners may want to consider a more pet-focused vacuum instead.

Its lightweight design means it is really easy to manoeuvre around rooms, and as always with Dyson, there are plenty of tools for getting into all the nooks and crannies. We really like its long cord for maximum reach too, plus its 40% quieter than previous Dyson models.

All this, and at under £200, it’s one of Dyson’s most affordable models yet.

At the time of review, the Dyson Light Ball Multi Floor was available for £199.99.

Read the full Dyson Light Ball Multi Floor review